Rebecca, Me & Billy at Their WeddingThirty-two years ago this past 4th of July, I was allowed to share a special gift that through time has enhanced my life in ways that I would have never imagined. Two days prior to that joyous anniversary, however, I had to reluctantly, but proudly give that present away to another man at a place that is special to all of us. The gift was my beautiful, oldest daughter, Rebecca Lynn, the man was Billy Mason, and the place was Road Atlanta!
The wedding took place just after completing her second road race of the day on the twisting turns and hills at Road Atlanta under a stifling hot July sun. The races had left her with grease under her fingernails, her hair in helmet-crushed knots, and her pretty face smeared with dirt. So, when she reappeared only two hours later, the transformation took my breath away. Rebecca, the gritty, ultra-fast motorcycle racer had become Cinderella at the Ball. Her finger and toe nails were painted, her hair was beautifully coiffured and woven with flowers, and she had traded her racing leathers for a gorgeous wedding gown. Surrounded by friends, family, and other motorcycle racers, the official chaplain of the sponsoring racing association (WERA), joined Rebecca and Billy Mason in Holy Matrimony under a Gazebo lined with checkered racing flags in the paddock area at Road Atlanta.
Like most fathers, walking her down “the aisle” was a time of proud reflection. As a teenager, Rebecca had had a rebellious side to her that she expressed in numerous ways…including riding the nearby mountain roads very fast on motorcycles during her twenties, which finally got her in trouble with the law. During that period of more than ten years, she continued her schooling at Gainesville College, Georgia Tech, and Southern Polytechnic State University to become an engineer.
Eventually however, her antics caught up to her; she received so many speeding tickets that she lost her driver’s license and was forced to park her street bike for six months. For Rebecca, it was a turning point…she decided that it would be a lot more fun and much cheaper to simply go racing. So, with Billy as her partner and fabricator, she bought a wrecked 1989 Yamaha FZR 400 racing bike, made it race-worthy, and went to the Ed Bargy Racing School at Jennings, Florida. She obtained her novice racing license, and began her racing career with WERA last spring.
Victory is SweetDuring events held at Roebling Road in Savannah, Little Talladega in Alabama, Jennings in Florida, Kershaw in South Carolina, Nashville Motor Speedway in Tennessee, and Road Atlanta, she amassed enough points to finish second in her class (D Superstock) in the Southeast as well as Mid Central and North Florida Regions, and received an invitation to the Grand National Finals at Road Atlanta in October. Although only in her first year of motorcycle racing, Rebecca’s smooth riding and great skills resulted in a third in the nation finish!
Needless to say, I was a very proud dad! The best part for me, however, was to know that the good racing genes have been passed on to the next generation, and that Rebecca’s superior abilities and good common sense allowed her to race the entire year without a single accident or injury. Those attributes kept me alive in racing for ten years in Europe during the 1960’s and for the past two years with SCCA here in the Southeast. And, there’s no doubt that Rebecca has “the right stuff” to have a great career in motorcycle racing. With her new husband Billy by her side as a superb pit boss, this “old man” is not only going to be Rebecca’s most ardent fan, he’s going to deeply enjoy being a spectator at her future races!